Winner of the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
A New York Times 2016 Notable Book
Entertainment Weekly's #1 Book of the Year
A Washington Post 2016 Notable Book
A Slate Top Ten Book
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. . . . Nathan Hill is a maestro.” —John Irving
From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores—with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness—the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.
It’s 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson—college professor, stalled writer—has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn’t seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she’s re-appeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she’s facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel’s help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye’s losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We were sad each time we had to step away from this funny and sweeping drama. The Nix follows a hapless writer and college instructor who’s reunited with the mother who deserted him as a child after she pelts rocks at an ultra-conservative Republican politician and becomes a sort of celebrity. Nathan Hill’s debut has bite and relevancy—tackling internet addiction and the absurdity of the 24-hour news cycle—while also managing to be heartfelt and warm. Flipping between our own decade and the radical ‘60s, it’s a big, bold story destined to leave its mark.
Hill's first novel offers an ironic view of 21st-century elections, education, pop culture, and marketing, with flashbacks to 1988, 1968, and 1944. The action begins in 2011, when Samuel Anderson, an English professor who prefers playing World of Elfquest online to teaching Hamlet to college students, learns that Faye, the mother who abandoned him when he was 11, has been arrested for throwing stones at flamboyant ultraconservative presidential candidate Sheldon Packer. News media repeatedly show Faye's photo from her young hippie days along with a video of the attack. In an attempt to help his mother and himself, Samuel digs into Faye's past, focusing on the Iowa town where she grew up and 1968 Chicago, where she unwittingly became caught between protesters and police. Samuel's search with assistance from Pwnage, an Elfquest savant uncovers a judge with a 50-year-old grudge, a grandfather with a 70-year-old secret, and a world where the official story and the truth often diverge. The Nix of Hill's title is a Norwegian mythological being that carries loved ones away, a physical and metaphorical representation of fear and loss, much like the Under Toad in John Irving's The World According to Garp. Like Irving, Hill skillfully blends humor and darkness, imagery and observation. He also excels at describing technology, addiction, cultural milestones, and childhood ordeals. Cameos by Allen Ginsberg, Walter Cronkite, and Hubert Humphrey add heart and perspective to this rich, lively take on American social conflict, real and invented, over the last half-century. 100,000-copy announced first printing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fully engrossing story with fleshed out characters whose flaws you learn to love. Enjoy the time travel back to 1968!
Not for me
I got to page 146. Maybe I should have stuck with it, but it would have not been worth it. I have other books to read that are lined up waiting for me
Perhaps I was too hasty to check out of this plot, but if a writer doesn’t grab me by this point, I’m done. I offer my apologies to the author
A book that's hard to put down
A great read.